Baxter undertakes another expansion, this one in Puerto Rico

Baxter International is plowing more money into its international manufacturing operations, this time in Puerto Rico. The drugmaker, which recently said it would expand cytotoxic manufacturing capabilities in Germany, is making major upgrades at plants in Puerto Rico.

Baxter ($BAX) will invest about $35 million into plants in Aibonito and Jayuya on top of the $2.5 million Baxter put into the Aibonito plant last year, a development official told Caribbean Business. Baxter's general manager in Aibonito, Enrique Morán, told the news site that it is adding a production line to manufacture and pack IV solutions.

The more efficient process will mean the need for fewer people, however, and the company intends to lay off about 400 employees in Aibonito beginning with 100 positions in June, the Latin American Herald Tribune reports. At its peak, the facility had 900 employees. The jobs will be phased out over several years as it also moves some work to the Dominican Republic.

In addition to the plants in Aibonito and Jayuya, the company has a plant in Guayama. The plants in Jayuya and Guayama were the subject of an FDA warning letter in January 2011. It criticized the Jayuya plant for failing to investigate batch failures, and the Jayuya and Guayama plants for failing to report product defects to the agency. The company received a closeout letter for the problems in July of that year.

Baxter has other manufacturing projects under way in other parts of the world. In February, Baxter announced the third expansion in 6 years for a cytotoxic manufacturing facility in Halle, Germany. That facility is adding 1,750 square meters, an expansion that it expects to lead to a 10% bump in employment at the facility. Baxter is installing a commercial filling line with two freeze dryers, as well as a clinical filling line with an additional freeze dryer. Both the new commercial and clinical lines will be equipped with an automated loading/unloading, capping and inspection infrastructure. Baxter expects the work to be completed in 2015. 

- read the Caribbbean Business story
- here's more from LAHT
- and the FiercePharma piece

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